November 2013 29th Year of Publication


November 12 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Reservations are required, so either contact Alberta Moran on her cell phone at 301-910-0177 or via e-mail at no later than noon on Friday, November 8th. As we go to press, attempts are underway to identify a replacement speaker for William Wrobel, Director of the Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) and Suborbital and Special Orbital Projects Directorate. His presentation was announced in the October newsletter, but has had to be rescheduled into the New Year based on changes in priorities due to the Government shutdown.
December There will be no GRAA Luncheon due to December’s many holiday-related events.
January 14 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Dr. Michael Gazarik, NASA’s Associate Administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, will be our featured speaker for our first luncheon of 2014. He will present an overview of current and future technology development within NASA.

COMMENTS FROM RON BROWNING, GRAA PRESIDENT: Unfortunately, our October luncheon was forced to be cancelled due to it being a victim of the Government shutdown. As a result, the more than 60 retirees and their spouses who made reservations missed out on hearing Center Director Christopher Scolese’s much anticipated presentation on Goddard’s current and future programs and missions. His schedule permitting, Chris will be invited to make his presentation as early in 2014 as possible. Unfortunately, NASA’s 2014 budget is far from being resolved even though the shutdown has ended. This is based on continuing negotiations over potential sequestration issues and Congressional budget appropriations that may result in leaving Earth Science programs, in particular, in jeopardy of encountering substantial funding reductions in 2014 and beyond.

TREASURER’S REPORT: Treasurer Bob Wigand reports he received donations from the following members: William Carpenter, Elly and Robert Cleaver, Thomas Cygnarowicz, John Fuchs, James Morakis, Jan Owings, Christopher Scherer, William Townsend, and Edward and Dorothy Werner.

TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS TO GRAA ENCOURAGED: Two months remain in 2013 for you to consider sending in a donation to help keep GRAA financially-viable and deduct it from your 2013 federal income tax. Please keep in mind that we will be printing and distributing the next iteration of the GRAA Membership Directory next spring at substantial cost. Donations should be addressed to GRAA at P.O. Box 163, Lanham, MD 20703-0163.

FROM THE GODDARD ARCHIVES - IT HAPPENED IN NOVEMBER: On November 27, 1963, a Thor-Delta rocket launched Explorer 18, also known as the Interplanetary Monitoring Platform A (IMP-A). It was the first of a series of satellites designed to be launched before and during Apollo flights and carried instruments designed to measure cosmic rays, the solar wind, and interplanetary magnetic fields beyond the Earth’s magnetic field. The sphere on top of the satellite’s boom contained a sensitive magnetometer and four windmill-like solar panels provided operating power. Explorer 18/IMP-A performed normally until May 30, 1964, and then intermittently until May 10, 1965, when it was abandoned. Data from the mission led to the discovery of a new layer of radiation beyond the Van Allen belt and confirmed the existence of a standing shock wave around the Earth’s magnetic field.

LUNAR ATMOSPHERE AND DUST ENVIRONMENT EXPLORER (LADEE) IS ON ITS WAY TO THE MOON: Ye Ed noted in the October newsletter that “the LADEE spacecraft was successfully launched from the WFF on the evening of September 6th.” Then Ye Ed wrote that “historically, the WFF is known for the thousands of extremely successful suborbital launches. Apparently, WFF missions are now going orbital…” GRAA member Peter Bradfield, who retired from the WFF, took mild offense to Ye Ed’s leaving the impression that the LADEE mission was the WFF’s first “orbital” mission. He correctly cited that there were previous “orbital” missions (e.g., the Orbiting Frog Otolith mission on an old Scout rocket and orbital-capable missions launched by Aerobee 350 systems). He suggested replacing the term “orbital” with the term “trans-lunar.” Ye Ed issues Peter a mea culpa for the unintended oversight and suggests that Ye Ed was apparently confused by reading a media headline stating that LADEE was the first deep space mission to be launched from the WFF.

THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH: Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear what they have to say.


•  James E. Milligan, of Mesilla Park, NM, passed away on October 3rd. He became the first Astronomer at NASA when he transferred from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) shortly after Goddard was formed. Among his many varied assignments, he was both a scientist and engineer, including work on the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory missions. He was instrumental in building, with his staff at Marshall Space Flight Center, an event analyzer for one of the three x-ray telescopes flown on the Apollo Telescope Mount on Skylab, and worked at Mission Control for all follow-on Skylab missions. He also oversaw NASA’s work on lenses at Ball Brothers for the initial repair mission of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1993.

•  Harold J. (Jack) Peake, of Alexandria, VA, passed away on October 12th. He was a member of the Vanguard group that transferred from the NRL at Goddard’s inception and was an Electrical/Electronics Engineer. During his Goddard career he was Head of the Flight RF Systems Branch of the Spacecraft Technology Division (STD), Associate Chief of the STD, Chief of the Electronics Division of the Space Applications and Technology Directorate, and at retirement was Head of the AST/SRT National Needs Office in the Engineering Directorate.

•  George S. Taylor, of Chincoteague, VA, passed away on October 18th. As this issue goes to press, details of his job title and organizational assignments at the WFF could not be confirmed.

•  Charles E. (Chuck) Trevathan, of Columbus, NC, passed away on September 28th from a 10-year battle with prostate cancer. He was an Electrical Engineer at Goddard and led the design team that developed NASA’s first standard spacecraft computer, a design so good it has continued to be flown. At the end of his career, he was Project Manager for the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite which was launched from Space Shuttle Discovery in September 1991.

•  Paul A. Villone, of Laurel, MD, passed away on September 30th. He was a Technical Analyst and Head of the Resources Analysis Group in the Project Management Division. Later, due to an organizational change, he became Chief of the Resources Analysis Office in the Office of the Comptroller.

ANTARES LAUNCH SUCCESSFUL FROM THE WFF TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS): Orbital Sciences Corporation successfully launched its Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft from the WFF to the ISS on September 18th. It was a test demonstration designed to bring more than a half-ton of meals and other supplies to the astronauts. Cgynus encountered a software glitch on its initial approach to the ISS on September 22nd, but Orbital Sciences’ personnel quickly uploaded a fix for the problem. NASA managers then opted to wait until after a Soyuz resupply mission launch and docking to restart capture and berthing activities for the Cygnus. Cygnus operated safely about 1,500 miles behind the ISS while mission managers and ground controllers tested the software patch and ultimately planned their second approach for September 29th. All test demonstration objectives were met and Cygnus moved in closer proximity to the ISS. Then Astronaut Luca Parmitano used the Canadarm2 to grapple and capture Cygnus and attach it to the assigned docking station. All processes proved to be extremely successful. Orbital Sciences is the second company to send a commercial cargo craft to the ISS. SpaceX was the first company to send its own cargo ship with two successful resupply missions and two test demonstration missions under its belt.

LADEE SPACECRAFT SUCCESSFULLY IN LUNAR ORBIT : While only a skeleton crew was on hand during the Government shutdown, mission controllers were not deterred from successfully maneuvering LADEE into lunar orbit on October 6th. LADEE has been operating marvelously since and has been shooting its radical laser communications experiment to accomplish its objectives of studying the miniscule number of atoms and molecules that make up the lunar atmosphere as well as dust particles that are emitted from the lunar surface.